Health Benefits of Black Beans & How to Cook Black Beans

black beansIn other parts of the world, beans are a staple item. In fact, the Brazilian Food Pyramid actually has a section devoted to beans. Why are beans consumed all over the world? Basically, they are really good for you; and they are cheap.

The Black bean, or black turtle bean, is a variety of the common Phaseolus vulgaris. It belongs to the legume family of plants and shares many characteristics with its cousins—kidney beans, pinto beans, or navy beans. However, the black bean does have some qualities all its own.

Health Benefits of Black Beans

  • High in phytonutrients.
  • High in fiber. From a single cup serving of black beans, you get 15 grams of fiber.
  • High in protein. From that same 1 cup serving you will also receive 15 grams of protein.
  • Black beans lower your risk of colon cancer more than any other bean variety.
  • Black beans are an excellent source of three anthocyanins which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Bean consumption has shown to lower risk for type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer.

In addition to these benefits, one cup of black beans provide 2/3 the daily value of folate and 120 milligrams of magnesium—two essential nutrients for cardiovascular support. That same cup also contains about 180 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and an impressive amount of zinc and manganese. What’s more, when black beans are prepared with whole grains they provide a high quality source of protein.

“I eat beans,” you might say. “Whenever I go to Taco Bell.” But is that the way to reap the rewards listed here? How often should a person consume beans? According to dietary guidelines established by the U.S. government, in order to reap the health benefits provided by eating legumes, adults should consume at least 3 cups of beans per week in ½ cup servings over 6 days.

The Easiest Way to Prepare Black Beans

Since beans require such a long cooking time anyway, the health benefits do not change if one eats canned beans or those prepared at home. Before I learned this fact, I struggled to cook my beans long enough to get them soft. Then, my mother told me that it is due to the hardness of our water. She suggested that we buy bottled water to cook our beans in—that it works for her. Not wanting to use bottled water, I learned to can my dried beans for myself.

  • Soak your beans overnight.
  • The next morning, drain and rinse and put into canning jars. You do not want to fill the jars more than 2/3 as the beans will continue to swell in the canning process.
  • Cover the beans with boiling water.
  • Cap and process under 10 pounds of pressure. Process 75 minutes for quarts and 55 minutes for pints.

I spend a day doing several turns in the canner. Then, I have beans on hand for a few months. Now, you can do it, too. However, if you still prefer to buy your beans in the can, read the label and choose a brand without salt, fat, or other additives.

Ways to Serve Black Beans

  • Dice sweet, red bell peppers and onions to mix with black beans. Cook with a bay leaf, minced garlic, and Real Salt to taste. Serve over rice, in tacos, or in wraps.
  • Sprinkle black beans over your salads.
  • Mix the beans in with your salsa or pico de gallo.
  • Mix with pinto and light red kidney beans for a three-bean chili.
  • Mix beans, corn, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and onions. Squeeze lime juice over and sprinkle with Real Salt. Serve with chips.

Photo by paul goyette



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